Julie Freedman Smith & Gail Bell

Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching and teleconferences to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit www.parentingpower.ca to ask your own parenting questions, and learn how to receive 20% off all services as a Parenting Power Member!
5 Ways to Make the Back to School Transition Easy
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Back to school means back to a routine. That shouldn’t be code for ‘back to chaos’. Take the time now, while things are still a bit laid back, to clearly define what you need from the kids as they head back to school. Check out these 5 steps to guide your way.

Clearly define:

Mornings
Work with your kids to write down the order of the morning routine:

  • What needs to happen (get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, leave house)
  • What time does each thing happen

Once this is written down (use pictures for little kids), your child can now tell you what needs to happen in the morning without having to read your mind. Rather than bossing your kids around, you can ask, ‘What needs to happen now? What’s next on your list?’

Schedule
Put your children’s schedule on a calendar so that they can see the time they have for fun, scheduled activities, homework and chores. When it is written down, it is concrete and easier to understand. This gets rid of the ‘There’s not enough time’ panic.

Sleep
Your kids also need enough time for sleep. If they wake up at 6:30 or 7 am, they need to be getting to sleep (not just starting bedtime routine) ten to twelve hours prior to that depending on their age. Check sleep needs here.

Responsibility
Kids need to know that they have a purpose and responsibility in the family. Maybe this is the year that they pack their own lunch for school. Will that happen the night before or will it be added to the morning routine? If they aren’t ready to make lunch, they can certainly clean out their lunch boxes and pack their own back packs.

Take time this month to clearly define your child’s chores, and then to teach the chore by doing it with the child and then allowing the child to do it more independently. Be sure to explain at what time and what day the chores need to happen and hold your child accountable for this. This teaches them that you mean what you say.

Expectations
If you don’t know what you expect, how can your kids? Take some time to clearly define what you want, then you can let them in on the secret and the family unit will run more smoothly.

Back to school doesn’t have to mean back to chaos. Have a plan, make sure everyone knows it, and follow through for a seamless transition back to school.

Image of back to school from Shutterstock.

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How to Not Fight With Your Kids Over Screen Time This Summer
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Do you feel like your child has become a zombie, constantly in front of some device? There’s still time to establish good screen habits this summer and to stop the arguing about screen time.

But why should you bother? Because according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in general, while watching television, your child is probably not doing any of the following:

  • Asking questions
  • Solving problems
  • Being creative
  • Exercising initiative
  • Practicing eye-hand coordination
  • Scanning (useful in reading)
  • Practicing motor skills
  • Thinking critically, logically, and analytically
  • Practicing communication skills
  • Playing interactive games with other children or adults (helpful for developing patience, self-control cooperation, sportsmanship)

So what can we do about it? Decide on the absolute limits and then involve your kids in working out the details within those limits. Here are some points to consider:

  • Amount of screen time per day (phones, computers, devices, TV, movies)
  • How that time should be used: all at once? 30 minutes at a time?
  • How will they keep track of their screen time? (timer, check list?)
  • What are the consequences if they don’t track their time, or if they go over their time?
  • Do they need to play outside prior to or after being on the screen?
  • Are there chores to complete prior to screen time?

Your kids may complain about this process. Expect them to be disappointed. Accept emotions, do not accept disrespect. If they need to cool off before they can be involved in the discussion, allow them as much screen-free time as they need before inviting them back to start the conversation again. When they are ready to take responsibility for their screen use, then the planning can begin.

Be willing to evaluate how the plan is working after a week. Be open to making some changes—maybe their game takes about 45 minutes to play so 30-minute increments don’t really work. Ultimately, decide on limits that you are willing to enforce and enjoy fewer arguments for the rest of the summer.

Image of child in front of TV from Shutterstock.

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